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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

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The Power Of Habits In Later Life

This post is a duplication of our newsletter, The Weekly Reset, where we review a key theme each week. In the spotlight this week: The power of habits in later life. What habits do you want to start working on, or even work on breaking?

A note from Johann

Small changes can make a big difference in your life

Adjustments over time will do it.

Planning to change your lifestyle can easily lead to promises and big resolutions that end up being impractical, and finally being dumped. Ambitious decisions to change an eating pattern or the way you do your work or any of the other major habits often become too difficult to keep up. We know that exercise is good for you and that eating lean foods with more protein and fewer carbohydrates will help you slim down. But the substantial adjustments and discipline required are sometimes too many to make all at once.

James Clear wrote the authoritative book on habits “Atomic Habits; An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones” He says that we must start small by making little adjustments that are practical and can give an immediate measure of satisfaction. They then are more likely to be maintained. In a way, we must bluff ourselves into the new habit. Don’t try to cut out carbohydrates completely and start a semi-starvation routine. Instead, slowly reduce the amount of carbohydrate intake by eliminating, e.g. bread and chips. Or do good exercise three days of the week instead of every day. A slow rate of change is less demanding of discipline and more likely to be kept up.

Bluffing and playing games with yourself can bring some fun into the business of your habits. You can give yourself an undertaking to hold off on some reward until you have achieved a set goal. I gave up drinking any alcohol during the week and reward myself with a nice wine or whiskey only over weekends. I don’t allow myself to relax and watch television until a specific work assignment has been completed. It may sound silly, but it works.

People are beginning to realize that the habit of getting up early can add valuable time to your day. It can be a real lifestyle shake up. See the book by Robin Sharma “The 5am club- Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life” But aiming for 5 am straight away will be too drastic. Start by getting up an hour earlier and gradually work your way to that 5 a.m routine.

The small-change mantra can apply to any area of our lives we would wish to see improved. By repeating small incremental act our habits compound over time and can change our health, wealth, productivity and even our relationships. Small adjustments over time will do it.


Our top pick this week:

The Seven Habits That Lead To Happiness In Old Age

Your well-being is like a retirement account: The sooner you invest, the greater your returns will be.

Image by Jan Buchczik as per original article from The Atlantic

“Imagine yourself 10 years from now. Will you be happier or less happy than you are today?

Happiness tends to decline throughout young adulthood and middle age, bottoming out at about age 50. After that, it heads back up again into one’s mid-60s. Then something strange happens. Older people split into two groups as they get old: those getting much happier, and those getting much unhappier.

When they were young, the happy-well senior citizens tended to have accumulated certain resources and habits in their Happiness 401(k)s. Some of these are, like generational wealth, difficult for each of us to control: having a happy childhood, descending from long-lived ancestors, and avoiding clinical depression.

But some are, to varying degrees, under our control, and these can teach us a great deal about how to plan for late-life happy-wellness. Using data from the Harvard study, two researchers showed in 2001 that we can control seven big investment decisions pretty directly: smoking, drinking, body weight, exercise, emotional resilience, education, and relationships.

If you want to ascend to that upper branch of happiness, following the seven steps as best you can is the most reliable way to do so. Take an inventory of your habits and behaviors today, and see where you need to invest a little more time, energy, or money to start moving in the right direction.

Click here to read the whole article on The Atlantic

Our Spotlight video:

Weekly Spotlight

My Reset App Has Launched!

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Two elderly men jumping into a pool with a quote “The essential app to help you prepare for and thrive in retirement”

Click here to find out more about My Reset app
Download it here from the Apple store
Download it here from the Google Play store

Other Highlights of The Week:

How To Use Quick, Easy Habits To Create and Maintain Outer Order

Image as per original article on Gretchen Rubin

“In my study of happiness, I’ve realized that for most of us, outer order contributes to inner calm.

Easy, quick, regular habits make it possible to manage possessions before they accumulate into clutter.
One simple concept … that seems to really resonate with people is this: it’s far easier to keep up than to catch up, and with the right habits, clutter never accumulates.

So then the question becomes: How do we create the habits that help us maintain outer order?

To use habits to help maintain order, try these popular strategies:

The Strategy of Convenience: Make it as easy as possible to maintain order.
The Strategy of Clarity: Know exactly what you expect.
The Strategy of Scheduling: Set aside time to create order.
The Strategy of the Clean Slate: Take advantage of new beginnings to foster outer order.
The Strategy of Pairing: Pair an activity you like to do or must do with creating outer order.
The Strategy of Loophole-Spotting: Watch out for the ten categories of loopholes that can lead to clutter.

What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while, so creating regular habits that shape our daily lives makes it far easier to keep disorder at bay.”

Click here to read the article on Gretchen Rubin

Weekly Poll

This week’s question:
Share an example of how you practice self compassion.

Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group

Last week’s poll and finding:
What habit do you want to build?
• Exercise
• Doing things as and when they need to be done
• Increase vegetable intake
• Discipline
• Getting up earlier
• Daily meditation
• Random acts of kindness
• To reclaim empty hours with positive action

What habit do you want to break?
• Quit smoking
• Drink less coffee
• Not exercising
• Too much TV time
• Staying up too late
• Hitting that snooze button
• Eating in front of the tv
• Screentime
• Mindless scrolling
• Being negative
• Spend less time online
• Making everything an emergency and not knowing how to relax
• Snacking when bored

Wildcard Pick for the Week

How Vietnam War Veterans Broke Their Heroin Addictions
Click here to read the article on

Most Popular Quote of the Week

The biggest reward for a thing well done is to have done it. – Voltaire

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Quote by Voltaire – The Biggest Reward For A Thing Well Done is To Have Done It.

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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.